Restorative justice (RJ) is a way of working that helps us deal with conflict. This could include victims and offenders meeting and allowing offenders to face up to the consequences of their crime or actions, or teachers using RJ to deal with unacceptable behaviour in the classroom.
It is not a soft option as many offenders find it difficult to face up to the impact of their crimes. Victim participation is always voluntary.
Benefits of RJ to the victim:
- Make an offender realise how the crime has affected the victim’s life.
- Find out information to help put the crime behind them – for example, why the offender targeted them.
- Ask for reparation, either financial or a verbal apology.
- Reduces post traumatic stress disorder.
Benefits of RJ to the offender:
- Opportunity to offer explanation.
- Opportunity to apologise.
- Opportunity to repair the harm.
- Often reduces re-offending.
Benefits of RJ generally:
- Puts the needs of the victim first.
- Gives victims a greater voice in the Criminal Justice system.
- Finds positive solutions to crime.
- Allows victims to receive an explanation and more meaningful reparation from offenders.
- Makes offenders accountable for their actions.
- Shows the community that offenders are facing up to their actions.
- Can, in some cases, motivate offenders to stop their criminal behaviour.
How RJ works
In Thames Valley, we use RJ as a way to deliver our cautions, reprimands and final warnings. It is also available for conditional cautions in some areas.
Our neighbourhood officers are also trained to use RJ to help them deal with neighbour disputes, minor crimes, community issues, and many other incidents they come across on a daily basis. Our complaints department uses RJ to deal with complaints against police and internal grievances.
The more recently introduced Youth Restorative Disposals (YRDs) and Adult Restorative Disposals (ARDs) are also delivered using RJ. These disposals - for low-level crime - were introduced to deal with offenders without bringing them into the Criminal Justice system and allow the victim to say what they would like to come out of the incident. This is often just acceptance of wrongdoing and an apology.